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HORNETS VS. TIMBERWOLVES
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
February 7, 2011

Due to the NBAs rotating schedule, Mondays visit is the lone time the Minnesota Timberwolves will travel to New Orleans to play the Hornets during the 2010-11 regular season. With one victory already under their belts over the Hornets in December, the T-Wolves can clinch the season series against NOLA by winning in the Hive. Minnesota has not won a season series vs. New Orleans since the 2004-05 campaign, a forgettable season for the Hornets in which they finished 18-64.

The Timberwolves posted a 113-98 victory over the Hornets on Dec. 27, a frustrating defeat for New Orleans that may have served as a turning point in the season. The Hornets loss in Minneapolis marked their seventh consecutive road defeat and dropped them to 18-13 overall. After that, though, New Orleans won seven of the next eight road contests. From Jan. 9 through Jan. 26, the Hornets posted 10 straight wins overall, equaling their franchise record during their 23-year history of basketball.

Minnesota was one of the NBAs top teams during the Kevin Garnett era, but after trading the best player in franchise history to Boston in the summer of 2007, the Wolves have experienced four straight lean seasons. One bright spot in 2010-11 has been the emergence of power forward Kevin Love, who compiled a game of 31 points and 31 rebounds against the Knicks on Nov. 12. It was the first time an NBA player turned in a 30-30 game since Moses Malone accomplished the rare statistical feat in 1982.

Love is surrounded by several other recent high draft picks, including former Miami Heat No. 2 overall choice Michael Beasley, second-year point guard Jonny Flynn and rookie wingman Wesley Johnson. They are also anxiously awaiting the potential arrival in 2011-12 of Ricky Rubio, a Spanish phenom who excelled at the 2010 Olympics.



INTRIGUING MATCH-UP


Power forward, David West vs. Kevin Love
The Hornets did a commendable job against Love in the Dec. 27 game, holding the UCLA product below his season averages, with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The bigger problem for NOLA was Minnesotas perimeter shooting the Wolves were 11-for-23 from the three-point arc. West is a two-time All-Star, while Love was a candidate to attain All-Star status this season, but was not voted in by coaches on Feb. 3.



HORNETS.COM SCOUTING REPORT
A closer look at the Minnesota Timberwolves:


Luke Ridnour


Michael Beasley

GUARDS
The always steady Luke Ridnour has started nearly every game in which hes appeared in for the Timberwolves this season. Ridnour is an above-average spot-up shooter whos also a crafty passer and ballhandler. Many around the NBA believe that the point guards free-agent departure from Milwaukee in the summer of 2010 has contributed to the Bucks being one of the NBAs most disappointing teams this season. Ridnour served as an excellent backup and mentor for Brandon Jennings in 2009-10, when Milwaukee surprised by reaching the playoffs.

Backup point guard Jonny Flynn has been greatly hampered by a hip injury in his second pro season. Flynns statistics have diminished across the board, with the ultra-quick Syracuse product struggling to locate his shooting touch.

Another former Syracuse standout, rookie lottery pick Wesley Johnson burned the Hornets in a big way during the Timberwolves 113-98 victory on Dec. 27. Johnson drained six three-pointers in eight attempts. He finished 8-for-12 from the field and poured in 24 points, one of his best games in Year 1 of his pro career.

Corey Brewers role has fluctuated from starter to reserve during the first half of the season. Brewer, a member of Floridas back-to-back national championship teams last decade, is an outstanding leaper and one-on-one defender.

University of North Carolina product Wayne Ellingtons primary skill is his accuracy from the perimeter. Roster additions have diminished Ellingtons playing time in 2010-11.

Third-string point guard Sebastian Telfair is in his seventh NBA season and on his fifth different team. He did not play in the Dec. 27 game against the Hornets and was utilized more frequently early in the campaign.

FORWARDS
Kevin Love has been one of the NBAs most discussed players in 2010-11, after producing one of the best individual first halves for a power forward in recent memory. The 6-foot-10, 260-pounder possesses one of the most unique skill packages in the league. Hes leading the NBA in rebounding at over 15 a game, but hes also an excellent shooter and passer. If Love continues on his pace of averaging over 20 points and 15 boards, hell be the first NBA player with those stats at the end of a season since Moses Malone in 1982-83.

Michael Beasley entered the NBA in 2008 amid considerable hype as the No. 2 overall draft pick. In fact, there was some discussion that summer on whether the Chicago Bulls should draft Derrick Rose or Beasley with the top choice. The Heat ended up taking Beasley second after the Bulls opted for Rose, but Beasley never lived up to his billing in Miami. However, in his first season with the Timberwolves after a summer 2010 trade, he has delivered on his immense promise as a dynamic, high-scoring small forward. The Hornets witnessed the left-handers talents first-hand on Dec. 27, when Beasley poured in a game-high 30 points.

Martell Webster is a former Portland role player who made several big shots against the Hornets while with the Trail Blazers. He got a late start to 2010-11 due to injury, but is one of the Wolves most dangerous perimeter shooters.

Anthony Tolliver has been a past member of the Hornets summer league squad and also was briefly on the regular-season roster, but never appeared in an official New Orleans game. He played extremely well vs. NOLA while with Golden State last season.

CENTERS
Like teammate Beasley, Darko Milicic is a former No. 2 overall pick who did not pan out with the team (Detroit) that drafted him. Milicics career has received a boost since he arrived in Minnesota, where he signed a four-year free-agent deal last summer. The left-hander is a capable passer and rebounder.

Hard-nosed rookie Nikola Pekovic provides muscle and depth in the paint for the Wolves. The native of Montenegro was came to the NBA highly-touted after a successful career overseas.

Third-year 7-footer Kosta Koufos came to the Wolves after spending time with the Utah Jazz, following one season in college at Ohio State.


Players the MIN/NOH want shooting free throws in a close game
TIMBERWOLVES HORNETS
Luke Ridnour
Kevin Love
Jonny Flynn
Wayne Ellington
Michael Beasley
86.7
82.7
82.2
81.3
77.4
Chris Paul
Jarrett Jack
David West
Marco Belinelli
Marcus Thornton
85.5
84.7
84.1
80.7
79.7
If the MIN/NOH need a three-pointer, their best options are
TIMBERWOLVES HORNETS
Wayne Ellington
Wesley Johnson
Kevin Love
Martell Webster
Luke Ridnour
39.1
38.9
37.6
37.2
35.6
Marco Belinelli
Marcus Thornton
Chris Paul
Jarrett Jack
Willie Green
38.5
37.0
36.5
34.8
31.8
Career FT percentage (through Feb. 1) Career three-point percentage (through Feb. 1)




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